Joseph Cornell at SFMOMA

I had invited my son to join me on my journey to San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, but he turned me down. That actually ended up to be a good thing because if he had come along, he either would have a) gotten mad at me because I was taking too long, or b) caused me, out of guilt, to rush. As it turned out, I was able to spend almost three and a half hours working my way through the Joseph Cornell exhibit Naviagating the Imagination while lingering over every amazing box, collage, commentary, note, and scrap of paper. It runs until January 6, 2008, and I highly recommend hawking a piece of jewerly if necessary and taking the A-train to see it.

As I wandered through the exhibit, I wrote down notes (in pencil – no pens allowed in the museum) about what I saw into my notebook. What follows are those musings.

I started by watching a short film by Larry Jordan who lived and worked with Cornell for a while in his house in Flushing, New York.

Cornell’s House in Queens

The film, entitled Cornell 1965 contains the only film footage of Cornell, and if you blink, you’d miss it. It’s not that Cornell was reclusive, as is sometimes implied, but that he wanted his work, not himself, to be recorded. Jordan was in the attic filming Cornell’s art work, when his camera happened to look out the window to find Cornell in his backyard, rummaging through boxes and trying to piece parts together, presumably for another one of his “object boxes” as he liked to call them. Towards the end of the film, there’s another glimpse of Cornell, standing inside his garage, hands on his hips, looking towards his yard. The camera lingers there, watching him lovingly, and you get this sense of a fleeting stolen moment, which was obviously very precious to the filmmaker.

Jordan narrates the film and gives us some insights into Cornell: Proust was his favorite writer. Debussey was his favorite composer. Lorca, a favorite poet.

Jordan said that Cornell “. . . believed that there were moments crystallized in feelings from the past . . .” He said that Cornell used the term “epiphanies” more than once to describe what he was striving for in his art and that “. . . his working concern was only to bring certain threads of reminiscence together.” Jordan also said that Cornell “preferred working with humble materials,” and that his simple little nine minute film was a sort of homage to that vision.

One of my favorite things from the exhibit was a huge blown-up photograph of one of the set of shelves from Cornell’s basement where he stored all his stuff and made his art. Rows and rows of boxes are stacked precariously on top of each other. The boxes are all different sizes and shapes and have handwritten labels on the front with descriptions such as “cornials,” “plastic shells,” “tinfoil,” and “tinted cordial glasses.” Apparently, Cornell liked to collect ephemera as a way to relax and break the tedium of his job as a textile salesman. It wasn’t until 1931 that he shifted from the hobby of collecting to making art from his collections.
He started in 1929 with collage and later moved on to boxes, which he called “poetic theaters.” And in 1953, he returned to making collages again.

Untitled (Tamara Toumanova) c. 1940
from Friday Prize

But it’s Cornell’s “cabinets of curiosity” for which he best know. The exhibit commentary says, “Cornell also absorbed his family’s Victorian sensibility of gathering and recycling things as talismans of ‘what else were scattered and lost.’ ”

Untitled (Paul and Virginia) c. 1946 – 48
from the WebMuseum

Paul and Virginia is one of my favorite boxes. Although I had seen Cornell’s work before, I had never seen this piece. I love the light blue color throughout and the way every little edge of the box is covered with text or illustration from old books and magazines. It reminds me of the piece I did for my mom The Gift. Apparently, Cornell did not feel any compunction against using original source material in his work.

As I was standing in front of this piece, and man and his daughter stood next to me. The girl was about ten years old. She said something like, “Why did he use those bird’s eggs?”

The dad replied, “You need to think about what they represent.”

The girl wondered, “The beginning of life?”

Even at her young age, she got it.

Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall c. 1945

Apparently, Cornell loved to create works that would incorporate and pay tribute to the artistic gifts of people he admired, as he did with the piece for Tamara Toumanova, and in the one above for Lauren Bacall. He was inspred by her movie To Have and Have Not and the song she sings in the movie “How Little We Know.” In his notes for this “dream machine” he writes about wanting to create “. . . a machine that can capture over and over what one rememers from the film, more of the romantic ‘afterglow’ than literal scenes such as a musical composition which evokes and prolongs the pleasure and mood of an experience without being merely descriptive.” from Revised Notes on April 1945. You can definitely get a sense of the nostalgia that pervades Cornell’s work. There’s an interesting article at the Tate Research Center that talks about how Cornell’s passions for entertainers — ballerinas, opera stars, and actresses, to name a few — influenced his work.

Untitled (Soap Bubble Set) 1946
from WebMuseum

Cornell like to use antique star maps in his work. He was an avid stargazer, and as the museum commentary notes “. . . celestial navigation became his primary metaphor for extended travel across time and space and between the natural and spiritual world.” He used Dutch clay pipes used for blowing bubbles in his work as possible reference to “pipe dreams” He wrote in his notes regarding a collection of images around the theme of air travel that “. . . the beautiful fantasy involved the early ideas of conquering the air, and some of the more fantastic continuations of such dreams.”

One interesting thing that I learned about Cornell’s work, is that he would create portfolios of magazine and news clippings, postcards, advertisements, and other printed material that he could find all relating to a particular person or theme that he was interested in. He was inspired to create a case of papers and ephemera referred to as GC 44 after working at the Garden Center Nursery in Bayside, New York in 1944. In his notes he wrote about the collection “. . . all this manner of thing are gathered to convey this fleeting glory the sunlight filling the kitchen to recreate the House on the Hill . . . the calm enjoyment vs. the former feverish wanderlust to be away forgetting the besetting reaction of physical and mental fatigue (which resulted, however, in endless experiences of unexpected beauty, precious moments of the commonplace transformed by a kind of magic producing the deepest and warmest kind of love for each humblest aspect of landscape and person encountered — in this territory where one felt so much a stranger and but a ‘few blocks from home.’ ”

Crystal Cage: Portrait of Berenice ca. 1934 – 67
from The Warhol

Between 1934 and 1967, Cornell collected all sorts of material for a photomontage publication about a little girl named Berenice who would do experiments in a tower, or Crystal Cage. He eventually published this series in View magazine which you can see online at Bibliopolis. In his notes for this piece, dated November 14, 1942 and labeled “Appearance of Berenice” Cornell wrote about the sudden inspiration he had after seeing, through an elevated train window, a brief glimpse of three girls as they rode by. “. . . that little arm held a key that was now unlocking dreams. For in another flash and with overwhelming emotion came the realization that Berenice had been encountered, leaving a scattering of star-dust in her train.”

Some other random observations about Cornell:

  • He was a science major in college.
  • He became a Christian Scientist in 1925.
  • He liked the artists DeChirico and Max Ernst.
  • He created the first avant-garde “collage films” by spicing together film footage that he collected.
  • I liked his use of glass compasses and the Dutch pipes.
  • I recognized some of the marbled papers he used in his work. They are in the end papers of some of my old books.
  • I like the way he cut out an image and placed it opposite its own dark silhouette.
  • I recognized two collage images that he used as being from a little French language book that I own.
  • He was influenced by Juan Gris.
  • He was inspired by Rebecca Patterson’s 1951 biography The Riddle of Emily Dickinson.
  • The French word for “dovecotes” is colombier which is derived from the Latin word columbarium which denotes a niche for burial urns.

  • To see more of the contents of Cornell’s collections visit the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.
  • To see an interactive web site for the SFMOMA exhibition, which was originally created by the Peabody Essex Museum, visit Joseph Cornell: Naviagating the Imagination.
  • If you can’t get to San Francisco, you might enjoy the beautiful book which catalogs the exhibition — Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination, which can be purchased at Amazon.

  • Ramblings on the Train

    I’m on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) right now riding to San Francisco. I’m listening to Snow Patrol, but it can’t keep the rumble of the train out of my head. I feel like I’m listening to the soundtrack of my life. I know that people who commute every day must miss the movie show that passes in front of them outside these dirty windows. Couldn’t CALTRANS come up with a really long trainwash tunnel that the trains could run through every morning and/or night? Citizens deserve clean windows in order to see the green hills and red and yellow liquid amber trees that stream past like a fiesta.

    I almost didn’t leave the house today. I had to convince myself to get outside. I haven’t been out by myself on a solitary adventure in such a long time that I feel a little out of practice. There’s a slight butterflies in the stomach effect going on. That’s excitement for what lies ahead. I have to remind myself that we all should remember how to be happy alone.

    After shoving myself into the car, the next hurdle was buying my train ticket. Figuring out how to use the latest ticket machine at the BART station could have been an all day ordeal, but the kindly station man, in his tan trenchcoat and black beret, stepped right in to assist, making my life so much easier.

    I’m just coming out of the Caldecott tunnel and into the light of Berkeley. How lucky I am to live in the Bay Area. I know there are lots of other wonderful places to live — San Diego; Portland, Oregon; or Barcelona, Spain; or Prague, Czech Republic. But since I don’t live in any of those places I’m glad that I live here. We citizens deserve to live in a place that we can say wholeheartedly “I love this place.” And clean windows. We deserve clean windows on all our mass transit– ferries, busses, trains. If we are making the sacrifice of foresaking a ride on our horse — I mean car — over the open range — I mean freeway — at least we should be able to expect see-through windows that let us admire the view.

    Oakland is approaching. I heard on the news today that Oakland is now listed as the 4th most dangerous city in the United States. Should I clutch my purse when the Oakland station doors open?? It doesn’t look too bad from here, although I have to admit, it’s hard to judge from this speed and distance. There are some dilapidated Victorian style houses, trees, streets. Yards are overgrown with grass. Junky cars are in the front yard. Doesn’t look too scary. However, I would hate to live in a place where I had to unfurl miles of barbed wire and string it across my backyard fence for protection. No citizen should have to do that. And the windows . . . they can’t even be cleaned because of the bars on the outside. That’s no way to live. I wonder how many citizens of Oakland can say wholeheartedly “I love this place”?

    It occurs to me as I write this that if I were a daily commuter, and had a smidgen of discipline, I might be able to write The Great American Novel during my commute hours. I wonder if anyone has tried it.

    We’re out of another tunnel and into the light again. There’s a lot of graffiti out there. A sure sign of boredom or lack of art supplies. Or a checking account. If a person had a checking account with some money in it, he or she probably wouldn’t feel compelled to spray a signature across the side of a building. The person could just sign checks instead. But maybe the graffiti is a territory thing. Like a dog who lifts its leg a little on every bush in its neighborhood just to let every other dog know it’s been there.

    We’re going under the bay now. It would have been sweet if they had designed the transbay tube with windows so we could look out of the train and see the ocean world. But it probably would be too dark and murky to see anything. How deep below the water are we traveling right now? It’s an amazing thought. Up above us is the Bay Bridge and maybe an oil tanker trying to dodge a bridge support. What the hell?? They still don’t require tankers to have double hulls?? How can we teach our children to learn from their mistakes if we don’t do it ourselves? Weren’t they talking about the need for double-hulled ships after the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989?

    We’re pulling into the Powell Street station now, so it’s time for me to pack up. I am almost at my destination — the Joseph Cornell exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. More on that tomorrow!

    Stories from Molivos, Greece

    Walking to the top of the castle in Molivos

    Yesterday I was trying to organize some of my books which are sitting in piles all over my living room. (Too many books and not enough book shelves!) I came across a journal that was empty except for the first eight pages. I have to admit, I have a lot of half-filled notebooks scattered around my life. In fact, I suspect, if I perused each one, I’d find a lot more un-finished rather than finished journals. Actually, I knew myself so well when I started this particular one, that my first paragraph of writing ends with this line: “. . . I found this perfect notebook last night, and I bought it. So let’s see how much writing I actually do.” Not much, I’m afraid. But these eight pages are gems, if I do say so myself. They are not really about me (although what I chose to write about is definitely a reflection of who I am), but are a series of four little stories that were told to me about people from the town of Molivos, Greece.

    Looking through the castle window at the harbor

    Molivos is a tiny town on the island of Lesvos, Greece. It is in this town where my husband was born and raised. It’s the town I visited while on vacation when we were both in our mid-twenties. It’s where I met him and where we fell in love. I not only fell in love with him, but also with his home. The stories I am going to relate were written from my last visit there in 2001. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

    Story #1 – Letting Go

    Last night was very nice. We [Michael and I] went to the home of Nikko and his wife, Yota. Nikko and Michael were childhood friends. I really liked Yota a lot. Maybe it’s becasue she talked to me in English and asked me questions about my job, which I could actually answer back in a comprehensible way since I didn’t have to speak Greek.

    Yota is a vegetarian and a veterinarian. I suspect those two things are related somethow. She lived in Australia as a child which explains why her English is so good. She has beautiful big brown eyes and a perfect white simile — she must have the best teeth in Molivos. Michael tells me that her family is rich, so maybe she could afford to go to the dentist.

    I don’t know how the conversation came to this, but she told me this story about her dog of sixteen years.

    Her dog was pretty old and was ill and dying. Yota was going to be going to Athens for three weeks. She would be leaving in two days. She knew her dog was dying and should be put to sleep, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Yet she didn’t want the dog to die without her while she was gone.

    One evening she was reading a story to Nikko and her sister, It was about a yogi who had been given a sick deer to heal. The yogi had become attached to the deer, and when its health had improved, he did not want the deer to leave. So the deer stayed. Somehow the yogi came to the understanding that he could not keep the deer because it was a wild thing and had to be set free. So the yogi told the deer that it could go, and it did.

    After listening to the story, Nikko went out to the patio where Yota’s dog was lying. He stroked the dog’s fur and told him that it was all right, that Yota would be okay and that he was free to go. At the very moment he said those words, the dog died.

    Yota believes that her dog was holding on to life because she couldn’t let him go, but that Nikko had the strength to set him free.

    The next day they buried their beloved dog, and the day after that, Yota left for Athens.

    Looking down towards Eftalou

    Story #2 – Good Intentions

    When Nikko was a young boy, his father owned a huge garden on the outskirts of Molivos. One day as a joke, a neighbor lady told Nikko that he could help his father’s watermelons grow better if he stuck a hole in them and turned them upside down.

    So one evening, hoping to help his father, Nikko took a stick and punched a hole through every single watermelon rind and then turned the fruit over.

    Of course, when Nikko’s father found out he was furious — but not with Nikko. The angry farmer went over and yelled at the neighbor woman who had lied to his son.

    Looking down along the coast

    Story #3 – The Evil School Teacher

    Michael often mentions a school teacher that he had here in Molivos who was feared by all the students because he was so mean.

    One day Michael was at school and he hadn’t done his lesson from the day before. His excuse was that the class had been on a field trip, and he hadn’t had time to get the assignment finished.

    The teacher was going over the lesson while Michael sat in his seat nervously chewing on a pencil, afraid that he was going to be called on. Of course, he was.

    The teacher asked Michael to go to the front of the room to give an answer for a problem they were reviewing. Unfortunately, Michael still had a big chunk of chewed-off pencil in his mouth. In an attempt to get rid of it on his way up to the front of the class, he spit it out. It landed right on his teacher’s arm. The angry teacher grabbed Michael by the skin right in front of his ears and dragged him to the back of the room with Michael howling the entire way.

    Nikko also told us how once this same evil teacher hung Nikko upside down in the classroom [I was not clear on how this was accomplished], and then started paddling him to punish him for some purported crime.

    A few minutes into this endeavor, another teacher came into the room and said, “Take him down! You have the wrong kid!” Apparently, Nikko had a cousin at the school with the exact same name, and he was the one who had commited the offense and was supposed to be punished.

    Looking down at the town beach

    Story #4 – Costas and the Foreign Lady

    There is an old man named Costas who lives a few houses down from the place where Michael grew up. Costas does not really live in a house — it is more like a hovel, with a corrugated tin roof and small square windows that are always covered. He has two or three junky cars in his yard that he can’t drive since he lost one of his legs a few years ago. They say he hurt himself, although they don’t say how, that the leg developed gangrene and had to be removed.

    When we first arrived in Molivos, Costas asked Michael to drive him to a cafe so they could watch the women walk by.

    Michael says Costas was married to a nice woman, but after she died, Costas started to go a bit crazy. He used to be one of the biggest land owners in Molivos. He owned most of the land at the top of the hill below the castle. Then he started dividing it and selling off the pieces. He would spend all the money or sometimes give it away. It seems that his daughter and her husband, didn’t appreciate Costas selling off their future inheritance, so one night they snuck up to Costas’ house and beat him up while he was sleeping. He almost died. I don’t know whether this caused him to stop selling his land.

    Nikkos told us another story about Costas. Once there was a foreign woman who came to Molivos. She met Nikko and asked thim to introduce her to a real traditional Greek man, so Nikko took her to meet Costas.

    The foreign lady and Costas were up in his yard, sitting under a tree talking and drinking coffee. There was a goat nearby in the yard. It was bleating and making a lot of noise. Costas threw a couple of stones at the goat to get it to shut up, but it contined to bellow. So Costas pulled out a long switch blade that he had in his pocket, snapped it open, walked past the foreign woman, and slit the goat’s throat from ear to ear. Then he wiped the blood from his knife on the dead goat’s coat, closed it up, put it back in his pocket, and sat down to finish his coffee. The foreign woman left rather quickly after that.

    Molivos at sunset

    Powerpoint to DVD

    I had a goal, a dream: transfer my PowerPoint slideshow to DVD so my dad and aunt could have a copy that could be easily viewed. It all started after I returned from a trip to Germany that I had taken with my dad. We had gone together to see the town where he grew up. I had about 130 pictures on my digital camera, so I decided to put them in a PowerPoint presentation and burn it on a DVD for him to watch on TV. My aunt wanted a copy too, and I knew PowerPoint to DVD would be the simpliest way for her to see the pictures. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

    Things were going along nicely as I made my PowerPoint presentation, although the process of enhancing and cropping each image and putting it in the slide show was extremely time consuming. When I was about 7/8’s of the way through I thought to myself, “You know, self, I’ve never put PowerPoint on a DVD to view on the TV. I wonder how one does that.” Much to my horror, my Google search turned up nothing but discouraging news. “It can’t be done,” they said on all the best forumns. “Use product X.” Oops, not made for a Mac. “Turn each slide into an image and put it into iMovie.” Crappy resolution, and I don’t know how to use iMove. Besides, I had just done all my image work– I didn’t want to have to do it again. When I tried to learn about iMovie, I got conflicting and convoluted advice about some mysterious Ken Burns process and the “jaggies” which, surprisingly enough, has nothing to do with the PBS special about the Civil War. I tried to use iDVD. How the heck do I switch to a template that doesn’t play circus music ad naseaum? I went to bed at three a.m., no closer to my goal.

    The only glimmer of clairty I had found was from this website from Mr. Daniel Slagle: Importing a Powerpoint Presentation. But when I tried to follow his suggestions, I created a movie that stayed on my first slide until the one minute and twenty-three second midi file was done playing. Clearly not what I had in mind. So using Mr. Slagle’s advice as my starting point, I waded through the muck and finally produced a PowerPoint movie that plays music and can be seen on my DVD player. The steps I went through to make this masterpiece go from PowerPoint to DVD are given below. In addition, if you save things regularly as you go along, you’ll end up with a PowerPoint Presentation, a QuickTime movie, and a DVD movie. Remember, since a TV has a screen with a lower resolution than a computer monitor, you won’t see the same crisp images on your TV that you have on your computer. However, I think you’ll be very happy the results. This process worked for me. Hopefully it will work for you as well.

    Software Used:

  • PowerPoint 2004
  • Photoshop Elements
  • iMovie
  • QuickTime Pro
  • Toast Titanium
  • I worked on an iMac G5, so all the software is for OS X. I’m sure you can use other versions of some of these software products to produce similar results in order to get your PowerPoint presentation to a DVD.

    1. Set-up the PowerPoint Presentation [PowerPoint 2004]


  • Use a black background.
  • Don’t use custom animations.
  • Don’t choose an effect for slide transitions.
  • Set slide transitions to advance after four to five seconds. Apply to all.
  • Don’t add music or sounds to individual slides. We’ll add a soundtrack later.
  • 2. Prepare Photos [Photoshop Elements 4]

  • Crop and adjust jpegs from your digital camera or scans.
  • Change resolution to 150 dpi.
  • Resize pictures so that none are greater than 8″ in width or 7″ in height so they fit on the slides.
  • Select all, copy, and paste images into slides. Or you can save the images and use the Insert Pictures from File option.
  • 3. Add text to PowerPoint


  • Use a simple, sans-serif font.
  • Make text bold, size 30 – 32, and in white.
  • Adjust text and picture placement so that there is about 1/2″ of empty space all around the edge of the slide. If the text or photo gets too close to the edge, the curvature of the TV will cause images and text to be cut-off.
  • Time the slideshow to see how long it is when it runs by itself.
  • Save as a presentation.
  • 5. Create wav file of your music [QuickTime Pro]

    I tried to use the .mov soundtrack file in my presentation, but it didn’t work. I don’t know why. Also, a .wav file is smaller, but the quality of sound is still great, so my final product was smaller using a .wav file v.s. a .mov file for my soundtrack.

    6. Make a Movie in PowerPoint

    7. Create the file for your DVD

    8. Burn your PowerPoint to DVD [Toast Titanium]

    List of Links that Helped Me:

    A Trip Through San Francisco

    Me on the Ferry

    Every winter break, my sister, Kris and I, take our kids on a day trip to San Francisco. We’ve been doing it for years. Sometimes the hubbies are able to go. This was the first year my other sister, Kathy, and her kids went along with us. Having just gotten a cute little digital camera for Christmas, I decided to take it along and make a photo journal of our day. So come along with us as we travel through one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

    We catch the Vallejo ferry at 10:00, coffee in hand.The boat is crowded, but the nine of us all manage to get seats together. The weather is cold, breezy, and crisp, and the sky is impossibly blue. On our hour long ride, we pass San Quentin Prison and the Golden Gate Bridge.


    The Golden Gate Bridge

    As we approach the city, I can see the Transamerica building, with its distinctive pyramid shape, rising into the sky. And to the west, is the lovely silhouette of Coit Tower with its collection of colorful houses resting below it.

    Transamerica Pyramid Building

    Coit Tower

    After arriving at the pier, we go into the Ferry Building which is filled with wonderful shops. There’s a bakery, olive oil stores, candy stores, cheese market, flower shops, all open onto a main walk way. There are restaurants and coffee shops and other little stores. At this point, the kids usually complain about being hungry, so we grab a couple of freshly baked baquettes to nibble on as we walk.

    Candy Shop

    A Decorative Tile Outside the Olive Oil Shop

    Dishes of Exquisite Chocolates

    Flower and Plant Shop

    Sightseeing Tours

    Eventually we leave the Ferry Building and walk across the street to the Hyatt Regency Hotel. If we do our little trip before Christmas, we always enjoy the elaborate, minature Santa’s Village that they set up in the hotel lobby. But since we this trip is after the holiday, the village display has been taken down in preparation for the New Year’s Eve party. It’s always fun to ride up seventeen floors inside the hotel’s glass elevator. Sometimes we go to the very top where they have a rotating restaurant called the Equinox.

    Sculpture in the Lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel

    Right outside of hotel, at the corner of Market and California streets, we catch the cable car for our ride to Chinatown. The office buildings along California Street still have most of their Christmas decorations up.

    Our Cable Car Ride

    Decorations on California Street

    After the slow climb to the top of the hill, we jump off the cable car at Grant Street and start our descent through Chinatown. My sister and I always enjoy going into a little religious gift shop next to St. Mary’s Church. The church has been there since before the 1906 earthquake.

    Carved Wooden Angel

    Chinatown in so much fun; it’s a feast for the senses. The street is narrow and the sidewalks crowded. Shop’s wares spill out into the sidewalk. The kids usually buy sparklers and smoke bombs for New Years, and I love looking at the silks and pottery and ivory carvings. Kris and I always buy boxes of chewy rice candy. Exotic smells come out of the herb shops and there seems to be a different Chinese restaurant at every other door.

    A View Down Grant Street

    Gold Ornaments and Tiles Decorate a Bank

    Oriental Store

    Dragon Mural

    At the end of Grant Street, I see this street sign. I’ve never noticed it before. It leads into a tiny alley that’s closed off for construction.

    Jack Keroac Street

    We head down Columbus Street, backtracking a bit, as we make our way to our favorite Chinese restaurant. Everyone goes ahead while I take some more pictures. I pass City Lights Bookstore, where the Beat Poets (like Jack) used to hang out. There’s a colorful collage mural on the side of wall of a local bar. The letters were spelled out using wine bottle labels. The Transamerica building looms overhead, and so does the green building which is shaped like a giant ornate wedge of cheese.

    Famous City Lights Bookstore


    Transamerica Building

    The Green Building

    I finally reach the restaurant, and everyone is waiting at our favorite table — a huge round one with a lazy susan in the middle. We devore garlicky string beans, sizzling rice soup, honey walnut prawns, potsickers, and cashew chicken. At the end of the meal, they bring us a little dish with quarters of ice cold oranges and fortune cookies. We read our fortune cookies aloud, and then I make everyone give me the little strips of paper. I don’t know the name of this restaurant; it’s a little hole in the wall. But we’ve been going here for years and the meal is always fabulous.

    Usually this is the time when the kids start complaining that their feet are tired, be we still have a lot of walking to do before we reach our final destination. A hot fudge sundae at Ghiradelli Square is always a good motivator, so soon we’re back on Columbus and walking up the hill through North Beach to Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s a nice long trek, and there’s always lots to see.

    Bridal Boutique

    Mural on the Side of a Building

    St. Peters and St. Pauls Cathedral at Washington Square

    Wig Shop Window

    Bimbo’s Comedy Club

    Since I’m taking so long with all this photography stuff, everyone else goes on ahead. Eventually I reach The Cannery, a collection of shops and restaurants in an old brick building across from Fisherman’s Wharf. Inside is the Basic Brown Bear Factory, where you can pick out and dress your own stuffed bear or other animal. And across the street is a cute little Italian restaurant. We also pass Hyde Street Pier which has a very cool submarine and two old ships that you can tour.

    The Cannery

    The Basic Brown Bear Factory

    Ciopinno and Pasta

    Hyde Street Pier

    Another Old Ship

    I’m almost to my destination, and I know I’ll find everyone there at Ghiradelli’s Square. From the bottom of the hill below the cable car turn-around, I look over the San Francisco Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. Over me is the huge Ghiradelli sign

    Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands

    Ghiradelli Square

    Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop

    I find everyone waiting in line to get ice cream. This place is always packed, but people move in and out pretty fast, so we usually don’t have trouble getting a seat. They bring a huge, gooey, made-to-order banana split to our table and Kris and I dive in (we always share.) Afterwards, I go into the candy store and stock up on Peppermint Bark.

    By now, we are really worn out, so we catch the J line bus back to the Ferry Building. If we rushed, we could catch the next boat, but we decide to take our time. We go back inside and get bread, cheese, olives, and a bottle of wine for the ride back home. I know it sounds like all we do is eat, and you are absolutely right! We get back on the ferry boat. The sun is just beginning to slink down, and the lights on the Bay Bridge are just starting to twinkle. I sit on the deck of the boat, and take some last photographs of our City by the Bay.

    Ferry Boat

    The Bay Bridge

    The Port of San Francisco

    Night Skyline